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Inside A Voice Lesson

19th April 2015

So this is the first time I’ve done anything like this, but I thought it’d be kind of fun. For those unaware, I’m pretty heavily injected into the music world, and have been singing for as long as I can remember. I attend regular voice lessons, sing at various gigs, and am a member of a few premiere organizations in the Phoenix area, including The Phoenix Symphony Chorus and the Arizona Music Festival Chorus.

The other night at rehearsal, TPSC’s chorus master was talking about how non-musicians are very curious about the musical world. I never really thought about it, but I think he’s probably right. What the audience sees is a polished piece, but there are weeks and months of rehearsal that go into the ultimate performance.

I typically record my voice lessons so I can go back through them, listen, remember what changes I made, and fix anything that sounds “off” (and there’s always something that sounds off, trust me. A musician is never 100% satisfied with her work!). This week, I took a different listening approach, one that was more of an “outsider” looking into the musical world. Maybe that sounds…quacky or something. I don’t know. And maybe this is a silly idea. But I wanted to share a few clips from my lesson to give you a glimpse into what it’s like to pick up a new piece and try to master it.

For the past month, I’ve been working on Offenbach’s Doll Song from Tales of Hoffman. Enjoy!

Figuring out breaths…


Silly exercises are the norm!


The tiniest change can make a big difference…


Lots of laughing!


You’re not always so sure of yourself…



The finale always feels good. :)

A Weekend Trip Down to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point)

20th November 2014

Back in early September, I was so excited to get an email from Sea Side Reservations asking me to drive on down to Puerto Peñasco — known as Rocky Point to locals — for a gratis stay in one of their vacation rentals. A wanderlust craving a road trip, I couldn’t say no!

I’ve actually had friends recommend a trip down to Rocky Point in the past, but I never got the chance to actually go down there. So in the middle of October, just after a cold visit to Minnesota for my sister’s wedding, I headed to balmy Mexico to do important things such as sip on pineapple piña coladas, eat fresh seafood and dig my toes into the sand.


The accommodations — Bella Sirena Resort Room BE 503-V –  were far more than I expected. I mean… it was huge and completely furnished, complete with a dining room table, full kitchen, spacious (fancy pants) bathroom and a view. I mean, a really gorgeous view.  There was certainly enough room for at least two more people to join, if not more, and the rate is extremely affordable at $115 – $175 per night.

DSC_0031 DSC_0035That view — am I right?

DSC_0037 DSC_0044Hard to capture the bathroom, but it was a very nice space. Is it weird that I really like to look at bathrooms? Any time I visit a new restaurant or check into a hotel, I have to check out the bathrooms. Haha.

The morning after arriving, a sweet and highly recommend cafe called Kaffee Haus beckoned (yes, German food with a Mexican twist). Prices were low and the food was outstanding, as was the (much needed) coffee.

IMG_9953 IMG_9955Another highlight from the trip was a visit to Malecon, a fish and shrimp market where you can find lots of goods for sale (get your haggle hat on), tons of restaurant options, and, of course, fresh fish for dirt cheap. Also available: glorious views. I was a little overwhelmed with the touting, but it’s par for the course at markets like this.

DSC_0058 DSC_0062

DSC_0080 IMG_0084These giant clams were about 10 for $3. Dinner was excellent that night, especially sitting out on the patio with the sound of crashing waves.

And finally… the Gulf of California is truly beautiful, and probably one of the main reasons people venture to Rocky Point is to splash in the waves. It was nice to be able to walk out of the Bella Sirena hotel room and straight onto the beach. I worried about it being too crowded, but it was buzzing just enough to make you feel like you were in good company without overwhelming you with crowds. There were massages to be had (yes, seaside massages), horse rides, and plenty more.

IMG_0037  IMG_0051

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IMG_0081I’ll be back, Rocky Point! <3


*Hotel accommodations were paid for by Sea Side Reservations in exchange for a blog review.

A Few of My Favorite (Baked) Things

13th November 2014

I just threw two loaves of (my pretty darn impressive) banana bread into the oven and my goodness does it smell amazing… I’ve always contended that a home that smells like food, especially baking bread or pastries, is particularly inviting. If only I had the time to always have something in the oven!

Baking really is a favorite pastime of mine — especially desserts. What’s funny is that I don’t really even like to eat desserts all that often, so I often only bake when I have an exchange coming up or an event where I can spread the caloric wealth. Unless I’m baking banana bread because, duh, you always want that around. Ha.

Anyway, while I’m waiting for this bread to finish, I thought it’d be fun to pull together some of my favorite things I’ve baked in the recent past. I’ve included recipe links where applicable.

Red Velvet Oreo Stuffed Crinkle Cookies

DSC_0342 2I made these the day before a party and they were a hit… Almost too luxurious, if you ask me! Recipe link.

Cinnamon Rolls

DSC_0105These are just your everyday, run-of-the-mill cinnamon rolls. But my goodness were they delicious, and they’re notable because they were my first ever attempt. I made these and then shared some with my grandparents who were in town for the winter.

Strawberry Milk Whoopie Pies

6479470799_812eef8141_bYes that is a cat nose. I made these for a holiday cookie exchange and they took FOREVER. Whew. Tip: use the best butter you can find for the buttercream filling. The more expensive, the better. It’s worth it. Recipe here.

Breaking Bad Chocolate Cupcakes With Chili P

bbcupcakesWhat do you bake when you’re headed to a Breaking Bad finale party? Cupcakes with Jesse’s secret ingredient, of course! What a fun night (and great ending). I winged it with these. If you recreate, just make some chocolate cupcakes and add a dash of chili p to your frosting for good measure.

Blueberry Lemon Dessert Bread

DSC_0401 2This is one of those breads that’s super easy to make and always gets eaten up. You could always create a lemon sugar drizzle, poke some holes into the bread, and pour it on top for even more moist goodness. Beware of sugar coma, though. Recipe here.

Blueberry Thyme Sugar CookiesDSC_0034 copy

I was in a super creative, adventurous mood when I made these pretty cookies. I just took a regular sugar cookie recipe and then rolled in some fresh thyme from the garden. Then I created a blueberry glaze with more fresh thyme and called it a day. I believe I ended up bringing these to a symphony performance for rehearsal room snacking.

And the bread just got done. How’s that for good timing?

Creepy-Kitschy Flintstones Bedrock City Theme Park in Bedrock, Ariz

9th November 2014

I’ve always had a thing for roadside attractions. I’m the annoying one in the car on a long road trip who sees a sign for some bound-to-be-a-tourist-trap destination and it’s all I can do but huff and puff until there’s an agreement to pull over and check it out. It’s always worth it, I’ve found. At the very least, you have a story.

Anyway, the creepy kitschy Flintstones Bedrock City Theme Park located an hour north of Flagstaff in Valle, Arizona, totally fits the bill. Fortunately, the weather was fantastic on the day I happened to stop by. Powdery blue skies with wafts of clouds streaming above. Paired with the pale brown Earth and the pops of color from all the little rock houses baking their way toward dilapidation under the Arizona sun, one may very well call this place, on this particular day, a mighty photo op. The trip even inspired a Flintstones mani that I shared on xoVain. Ha! Enjoy the photographs. :)

Wendy_FlintstonesManicure_HERO[Get the how-to here.]

Pictures from the theme park:


DSC_0008 DSC_0012 DSC_0016 copy DSC_0033 copy DSC_0047 DSC_0059  DSC_0075 DSC_0091 DSC_0105 DSC_0110 DSC_0121 DSC_0132 Wendy_FlintstonesManicure_Park1   Wendy_FlintstonesManicure_Park4 Wendy_FlintstonesManicure_Park5



Magic Views: Camping on BLM land in the Sonoran Desert

11th June 2014

The pictures I’m posting today are actually what inspired me to start blogging again in the first place. I feel like I’m always doing things and going places and taking pictures of everything, but for the longest time I didn’t have anywhere to post them. Finally, after David and I’s “Campsgiving” — a full-blown grill out in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, in lieu of a traditional Thanksgiving meal — I decided it was high time I jumped back on the blogging bandwagon.

David and I have spent several Thanksgivings on BLM land, now, and this past year’s was probably our most successful little outing. Though, I’m pretty sure we encountered a bobcat growling and hiding in some distant shrubbery that sent both of us into a serious fit of panic. They say that you’re not supposed to run when you encounter certain wildlife, but my first instinct — after hearing that growl for the second time — was to kick it into high gear and run as fast as I good. At least it was invigorating?

Anyway, we watched the sun set that day, after our big fancy campfire meal, and then packed it all back into the car and drove the several hours back to a more populated area. Enjoy the pictures!

thanksgiving desert camping

thanksgiving desert camping

thanksgiving desert camping

thanksgiving desert camping

thanksgiving desert camping

thanksgiving desert camping

thanksgiving desert camping



all that space to ourselves!


we essentially prepared everything beforehand. I opted for some salmon, David opted for ahi tuna.


we also made carrots and rolls from scratch, which we cooked in the cast iron dutch oven.

desert campfire

i made the potato salad before we left.

desert campfire

complete! looks pretty darn good if you ask me.

desert campfire

desert campfire

sonoran desert

ohhhh, how pretty the sonoran desert views are.

sonoran desert

<3 BLM land.

sonoran desert

a hazy sunset.

sonoran desert

sonoran desert

found this in the dirt… no idea what it is. Some kind of worm shell?

arizona BLM land

handsome guy alert


arizona BLM land

the dusty sun sets don’t get much prettier…

arizona BLM land

arizona sunset

setting, setting, setting

flipping off the sunset

flipping off the sunset. David is a peculiar one.

arizona sunset


arizona sunset

and goodnight.



So Cheesy: Easy Homemade Mozzarella Cheese Recipe

9th June 2014

In recent years, David and I have dabbled lightly into the world of cheese making. We started with a ricotta, dare I say the easiest type of cheese to make, and have since begun making homemade, fresh mozzarella cheese. I wouldn’t call it a complicated process, though it does take some time. That said, it’s one of the fastest (a couple hours) and simplest cheeses to make in your own kitchen and I encourage everyone to give it a go!

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Recipe

To begin, you’ll need some whole milk (if you can find raw milk, even better — we’re using store bought milk, though), citric acid and vegetable rennet. The latter two can be found at a health food store and/or Amazon for very cheap.

To begin, you’ll need:

  • a gallon of whole milk (if you can find raw milk, even better — we’re using store bought milk, though)
  • 1.5 tsp. citric acid
  • 1/4 tsp. vegetable rennet

The latter two can be found at a health food store and/or Amazon for very cheap. You’ll also want a big pot, a thermometer and some straining materials (a sifting spoon and  strainer will do).


Step 1: Pour your gallon of milk into your stock pot.

Step 2: Combine 1/4 cup of water with the 1.5 tsp. of citric acid and stir until dissolved.

Step 3: Add the citric acid solution to your milk and heat on medium until the milk/water/citric acid solution reads 90 degrees.


Step 4: While your milk mixture is heating up, combine your 1/4 tsp. of vegetable rennet with 1 cup of water. Some people use the tablet variety, which can work, but the liquid rennet is best.


Step 5: Once your milk reaches 90 degrees, take it off the heat and add your vegetable rennet/water solution. Stir well and then place a lid on top.


Step 6: Allow the milk to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes, or however long it takes for it to firm up. It should appear yogurt-esque in texture and consistency (see below):


Step 7: Using a spatula or knife, divide the (very soft) cheese into sections and make sure none of it is sticking too firmly to the sides. Then place your pot back on the stove and heat it up to 105 degrees.  Heating it up will allow the curd to better separate from the whey.

Cheese7Step 8: After the milk has reached 105 degrees, use a slotted spoon to transfer the curd/cheese into another bowl. We use a pasta strainer since there is often still some liquid that needs to be sifted out, even after transferring with a slotted spoon.


Step 9: Continue transferring until you have a loose glob of cheese (see below).



Step 10: You can place that glob into the microwave for 15 seconds at a time to get even more liquid out. The more you microwave, the drier the cheese will become. A few little bursts is usually plenty.

Step 11: Roll your cheese into a ball. You can even season it if you like! We like to keep it simple with sea salt and cracked black pepper, but your options are limitless!



And that’s it! Eat it fresh, shave it and put it on some homemade pizza, gift it to friends or do whatever you want with it. For storage, we usually place it in an airtight container with the tiniest bit of whey to keep it fresh and moist.

Speaking of whey, you’ll have a lot left. Instead of throwing it on the drain, consider adding it to protein drinks or shakes, substitute it for water in bread recipes, in your vegetable stock, or pour it in the garden.  You can freeze it for up to 6 months.





June PopSugar Must-Have Review

8th June 2014

I love getting beauty boxes in the mail, and one of my favorites is the PopSugar Must-Have box. That said, the June PopSugar box was probably my least favorite box I’ve received from them in recent months, so it was a tiny bit of a let down.

Let me show you what I got!June PopSugar Must Have Box June PopSugar Must Have Box

New book by Emily Griffin, a NY Times bestselling author. Retails $28.

June PopSugar Must Have Box

This is a lovely Turkish-T Beach towel, which is so light that it actually doubles as a stylish wrap when you’re not at the beach. I love the colors. Retails $32



June PopSugar Must Have BoxThis Sachajuan Shiny Citrus Body Lotion smells pretty good — lightly perfumed and citrus-y, but not waxy or cloying like some can be. It retails for $24.

June PopSugar Must Have BoxLollies Basic Hair Ties. I’ve needed some new ones for a little while, actually. These are cute, though they seem a little large? Retails $8

June PopSugar Must Have Box

A gift card voucher for $15 to Native Union. Not sure how far that $15 will take me, though…

June PopSugar Must Have Box

These BBQ chips were actually pretty good. Yes, I ate them right away (I was so hungry!). $2

June PopSugar Must Have BoxLemon-scented antibacterial wipes by You Smell. Normally would have never bought them, but I suppose they are nice to have around. Retails $6


Overall, I am a little underwhelmed with this month’s box. There’s not that one item I’m really excited about Like I’ve been in recent months (such as the Smell Bent St. Tropez Dispensary last month or the Too Faced palette the month before). Overall suggested retail value is $115. I paid $39.95 for the box.

NYC seen through my iPhone

8th June 2014

I recently returned from a splendid trip to NYC, where I stayed with my college friend (and sorority “big sister” — haha), Lauren! We ate, we drank, we sang, we saw, we laughed and we had a great time. I was also able to meet up with some of my fellow writers from xoVain, including Marci, Danielle and Tiye, and I hung out with Joe, one of the only people from high school with whom I still keep in touch!  I even met with one of my “bosses,” if you will, Mirela, who runs the website, where I’ve written for over three years.

Anyway, I’m sharing my NYC trip via my iPhone — because who wants to lug around a heavy camera when you’re sprinting from village to village in the big city?

IMG_6310 IMG_6311 IMG_6334 IMG_6347 IMG_6375 IMG_6385 Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetIMG_6407 IMG_6398IMG_6429 Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetIMG_6470

Asian Oasis in the City: Phoenix’s Japanese Friendship Garden

24th May 2014

I can’t remember the first time I heard about Phoenix’s Japanese Friendship Garden. One thing I can tell you, though, is that far too much time elapsed between me finding out about it and actually going. David and I finally ventured there not too long ago, though, and I was even more impressed than I thought I’d be!

Despite it being located right in downtown Phoenix, the  Japanese Friendship Garden felt like a quiet sanctuary away from the busy world. I also appreciated all of the thought  that went into the garden’s design. It’s meant to be a place to relax, meditate (however you choose to do so) and just take a break from the go-go-go of everyday life. If you’re visiting town or a longtime resident, it’s definitely worth the humble admission fee of $5 to enter.






My Latest Obsession: The Face Shop Rose Cushion Blusher

22nd May 2014

Not too long ago, I put in a major order at RoseRoseShop, a Korean-based beauty websites that ships Asian cosmetics to pretty much everyone in the world. Some of the products were admittedly misses (I’m still recovering from a bad breakout reaction I had to a BB Cream by Skin79 — sob!), but there were definitely a few goodies in the bunch that will certainly become staples.

One such product is The Face Shop’s Rose Cushion Blusher, a pretty pastel pink that’s oh-so perfect for spring! For only $4ish bucks, you really can’t go wrong. I love that it’s an all-in-one product, and the applicator “cushion” is easy to use once you get the hang of it. A little product goes a long way, too, which is a bonus.

DSC_0113So cute, right?

DSC_0128I’m digging that cushion action!

DSC_0131The color picks up nicely on the cushion. I worried that maybe it wouldn’t, but was pleased to find that I didn’t need to use another brush to apply.

DSC_0134Gently dab onto cheeks. Obviously, the more pressure you apply, the stronger the color will be. I use a very light hand on my pale, pale skin.

And voila!

There are other colors available and I’ll likely try a few more in my next order. You can’t beat beauty products under $5, especially when they’re so cute…

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